Making Heros and Heroines
Copyright Vivian Gilbert Zabel - All
All stories and novels, even many poems, need to have a hero or
heroine. More and more heroines fill the bookshelves, too. What
characteristics do we want in our heroes (or heroines)? For
what do we search when we read, use when we write? Let’s
examine creating a hero (I’ll just use the term hero for the
rest of the editorial, but everything applies to a heroine,
A hero needs to be
"Okay, fine," someone
says. "How does a writer make a hero believable?"
One way is to pay
attention to the small stuff, the details. That doesn’t mean as
writers we have to include everything possible in the story or
novel, but we should have the hero so developed, in our minds,
that he or she lives.
www.aresix.blogspot.com, as well as
numerous composition books and my notes from writing
classes, workshops, and clinics include the following
information when examining the components of a
1. The hero should be
appealing and should inspire.
Reading about him/her
should give readers a feelings that they, the readers, too can
achieve their goals. The hero should help readers to find
courage and the will to continue. Any hero needs to be strong
and intelligent, as well as be human with flaws that readers
can understand but with the ability needed to
No matter what, the
reader must be able to relate to the hero on some
2. The writer needs to
develop the hero completely.
I noted earlier that
the heroes should be developed in our minds until they are
real. We should have a background, childhood, friends, family,
home, and likes and dislikes all in our mental files. We need
to note his motivations, phobias, the people he respects. Not
all the information will go into our stories or novels, but the
details are there, making our hero real. If we made our heroes
live for us, they are more likely to live for
3. Every hero needs a
special skill or quality.
We should ask ourselves
what gives him an advantage over the bad guy or guys, and why
he doesn’t give up? Then we use those answers to enhance our
4. The characters
around the hero need to be interesting and fully developed,
Those around our hero
should be worthy of him. The love interest and the villains
should have depth, be realistic and believable. The hero should
have a reason to love the other person; the heroine should be
in love with someone worth loving. The villain should test the
merit of the hero.
5. The plot should grab
the reader’s attention and challenge the hero.
Readers have to care
what happens and want to continue reading.
6. Make sure the hero
has an emotional stake in the outcome.
Another way to help the
reader care is to create an emotional stake for the hero. He
shouldn’t want to "win" just because it’s his job or is the
"right" thing to do.
7. Add a touch of
A bit of romance
enlivens the plot and makes the hero more human. The romance
should not be the main focus or just thrown it, but it should
be a natural part of the story.
Many of today's stories
and novels throw in romance and/or sex scenes without rhyme or
reason (used a cliché, I know). Anything inserted in a story,
including romance, needs to add to the plot, move the story on,
and/or enhance our interest in the hero or another
8. Write for your
Who do you want to read
and enjoy the story or novel? The plot and characters should
appeal to those people.
9. Make dialogue
Nothing ruins a hero,
or a story, for a reader faster than stilted or contrived
dialogue. Practice what you write. Speak it aloud. Try it out.
Is there unnecessary profanity? Do characters "talk" so that
readers understand as well as other characters? Listen to
people talk, and then clarify for readers.
If writers apply the
characteristics given, the heros and heroines in our stories
and novels will become believable and real.
Author: Vivian Gilbert Zabel taught English,
composition, and creative writing for twenty-five years, honing
her skills as she studied and taught. She is a author on
Writers (http://www.Writing.Com/), and her
portfolio is http://www.Writing.Com/authors/vzabel.
Her books, Hidden Lies and Other Stories and Walking the
Earth, can be found through Barnes and Noble or